In 2007 Poland lost the ability to supply beef to Ukraine, while a restriction on pork was added last year due to African swine fever (ASF). “In 2013, Poland exported pork worth a total of €80 million to Ukraine, which makes Ukraine an important customer for Polish meat exports,” said the minister.
The decision by the Ukrainian authorities could help to ease an overproduction crisis in the Polish meat market, due to severe drought in July and August. “Beef and pork on the domestic market are becoming cheaper, because of the drought,” said Witold Choinski, president of the Polish Meat Association (Związku Polskie Mięso). “It turns out that more animals are going to slaughter, due to a lack of feed. In the past three weeks, a lot of agricultural animals have been slaughtered. This concerns not only pigs, but also cattle. Some dairy cow owners are getting rid of weak animals as well.”
However, experts said the potential of Russia, Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries as importers of meat was not the same as before, due to the devaluation of their national currencies. As a result, in the long-term it is unlikely that Polish suppliers will restore exports to these countries to the levels observed prior to the restrictions, particularly given the growth of Polish exports to other countries.
“The bans have only had a symbolic impact on food exports,” said Bartosz Urbaniak, a member of the agribusiness board for BGZ BNP Paribas. “A much bigger influence has been the impoverishment of society in Russia, Ukraine and other eastern markets. The ruble and other local currencies have depreciated against the euro by 25%. And that means food is by 25-30% more expensive there. This is a much more serious problem than administrative barriers, because the people who used to buy Polish food, now cannot afford it.”
Meanwhile, data from European statistical service Eurostat said that Poland’s meat exports in non-EU countries were booming; in the first half of 2015 they jumped 41% compared to the same period last year, when the growth rate was 31%. Poland’s meat companies are also expanding their presence in African markets, including Benin, which acts as a transmission port, as well as China and Hong Kong.
The growth of Polish exports to EU countries this year slowed down to 10% growth during the first half of 2015, compared to 18% growth last year. In total, Polish exports of meat and poultry during the first half of 2015 were estimated at 482,000 tonnes, 16% more than during the same period in 2014.